Vitamin D is one of those vitamins that almost everybody lacks in some way. Primarily obtained through exposure to sunlight rather than in food sources, it can be difficult to make sure you're getting enough. This is particularly important for athletes – or indeed, anyone who exercises! Let's run through what Vitamin D actually does, and how these effects can benefit you.
One of the major things Vitamin D is responsible for is helping our bodies absorb calcium. Most people are aware that calcium helps with bone growth and strength, but this isn't all it does. It helps regulate muscle contractions – in particular, your heartbeat, and it's vital for the process of blood clotting.
All three of these benefits are vital to athletes. Having strong bones is important – after all, you want to reduce your risk of injury as much as possible. Regulating the heart-beat in particular will come in handy for those endurance runs! In addition, keeping your blood clotting regularly is useful for recovering from any injuries you may have. Often, when people see this they consider upping their calcium intake but this is less effective than upping your Vitamin D intake. After all, no matter how much calcium you have going in, it won't be beneficial if your body can't absorb it.
Another major benefit to vitamin D is the way it reduces inflammation. There's a substance known as “cytokines”, which can be either pro or anti-inflammatory. Vitamin D encourages the body's production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, whilst reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This means that you'll have less issue with inflammation, reducing the recovery time between workouts – a vital part of building a useful exercise routine.